By Cynthia Fuchs,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Smart thriller devolves into standard action fare.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Aliens are implacable, humans are fearful, a mom defends her son absolutely.
Violence & Scariness
Much of the movie's violence is implied, though what is seen can be jarring and even frightening. Standard action-movie violence includes car chases and crashes, as well as shootings, foot chases, fights, and rough take-downs by cops; these result in bloody bodies (slammed on windshield, etc.) and screams of fear and pain. Some violence occurs in front of young Ollie (his mother shoots someone, his mother almost dies, he has to give her an adrenalin shot to her heart/chest), who is duly upset. Other potentially upsetting images include a space shuttle crashing to earth (recalling the 2003 Columbia disaster); the yucky, crusty goo that the invading virus creates on its victims; a dog attacking a little boy who has been infected, leaving blood on his face (the boy throttles the dog); a woman being hit very hard by a car; an alien trying to break into Carol's house; a victim's intense cardiac arrest; Ollie waking from a nightmare in a panic and later running from his father and hitting him with a crowbar; a dead cop shown in a bloody pool on the sidewalk; TV news reports on suicide bombings in Iraq; and a Molotov cocktail thrown at Carol's car.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Passionate kiss between Carol and Ben, which is cut off when she changes her mind. Brief shot of Carol undressing (down to pantyhose) as she hurriedly changes.
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Language includes infrequent uses of "s--t" and "goddamn."
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Products & Purchases
Shots of and references to a Mac laptop, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, eBay, USA Today, CNN, Fox News.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Carol downs handfuls of stay-awake pills; Carol discusses medications for her patients (anti-psychotic drugs). People drink champagne, wine, and beer at parties.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this latest cinematic take on Invasion of the Body Snatchers could definitely scare kids, despite the fact that much of its violence is implied instead of shown. Not that it's short on action-violence scenes: There's a space shuttle crash, lots of loud car crashes, fights/struggles, and bloody shootings. And the alien virus leaves humans looking creepy (crusty, featureless, and wheezing), before they're turned into eerie copies of themselves. The movie -- which is structured to reflect the main character's disjointed state of mind -- cuts back and forth quickly in time in ways that might confuse younger viewers. Language is brief (one or two uses of "s--t" and "damn"), there's some social drinking, and Carol downs pills to stay awake.
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Where to Watch
Based on 2 parent reviews
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What's the Story?
THE INVASION is the fourth film version of Jack Finney's 1955 novel (previous adaptations include the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake). But the alien-engineered change that threatens humans in this version is no longer a matter of pods that enclose victims while they sleep, but a virus-like "highly resilient organism" transmitted through body fluids. It is up to Dr. Stephen Galeano (Jeffrey Wright), Washington, D.C. psychiatrist Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) and her colleague, Ben (Daniel Craig), to discover the antidote.
Is It Any Good?
The film indicates Carol's personal chaos with its fragmented, sometimes hard-to-follow storyline, which cuts back and forth in time. Bent over his microscope, Dr. Galeano isn't a likely action movie hero, and neither are his cohorts; the change in this old story's plot suits our current times. And Carol's perspective also limits potential philosophical questions. When her ex, Tucker (Jeremy Northam), tries to infect their young son, Oliver (Jackson Bond), with the organism, he insists that it's for the boy's good, to be part of "our world," where everyone feels peaceful and "the same" (news reports reveal that the rest of the world is changing: Darfur declares a ceasefire, the Iraqi president calls off suicide bombings, and Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush appear together, all smiles and agreements). As Tucker puts it, this conformity by force isn't so different from the pills Carol prescribes for her unhappy patients: Everyone just wants to "feel better."
The hitch is that the new world cannot brook difference, so anyone who's immune to the transition or otherwise resists it is eliminated -- brutally. And so the film undergoes its own change, from sharp paranoid thriller to noisy action flick, with lots of shooting and cars crashing, a chase in D.C.'s metro system, and a by-the-numbers helicopter rescue. Sadly, all this physical commotion eventually prevails over the film's more complicated questions about fear, independence, and social order.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the impact of implied violence in scary movies. Are movies scarier when they show violent acts taking place on screen or when those acts are left to your imagination? Why? Families can also discuss what message the movie is trying to send, if any. Do you think the aliens' proposed choice -- sameness without fighting, or individualism and selfishness accompanied by war and conflict -- is meant to reflect any specific issues in today's society?
- In theaters: August 16, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: January 29, 2008
- Cast: Daniel Craig, Jeffrey Wright, Nicole Kidman
- Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, disturbing images and terror.
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
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